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FAQ ~ Boundary Surveys

FAQ
Boundary Surveys

What is a boundary survey?

When is a survey needed?

Is a bank required mortgage inspection the same as a survey?

Is a survey necessary if an attorney has certified that the title to a parcel is clear?

What does a standard boundary survey entail?

How much does a survey cost?

What are the results of a boundary survey?

How will the boundaries be marked?

Is a plan of the survey necessary?

How should I arrange for a survey to be done?



What is a boundry survey?

A boundary survey determines the property lines of a parcel of land described in a deed. It will also indicate the extent of any easements or encroachments and may show the limitations imposed on the property by state or local regulations.

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When is a survey needed?

A survey is strongly recommended before buying, subdividing, improving or building on land. Surveying the parcel before these activities ensures that the expense and frustration of defending a lawsuit, moving a building, or resolving a boundry dispute can be avoided.

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Is a bank required mortgage inspection the same as a survey?

A mortgage inspection is not a survey. It is merely a surveyor's opinion that the the buildings and major improvements appear to be located on the property described in the deed. Many lending institutions require this inspection to check for obvious problems with the parcel such as encroachments, zoning violations and the need for flood insurance, but it does not determine whether the boundaries described in the deed are correct.

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Is a survey necessary if an attorney has certified that the title to a parcel is clear?

A clear title means that the owner has a lawful right to sell the property. It does not located or identify the property on the face of the earth and does not guarantee that the acreage is correct. In addition, title insurance policies do not insure the buyer against defects that would have been discovered if a full boundary survey had been preformed.

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What does a standard boundary survey entail?

The surveyor thoroughly examines the historical records relating to the land in question and often all lands surrounding it. In addition to the Registry of Deeds this research may include: the Registry of Probate, county commissioners' offices, town offices, historical associations and the Department of Transportation. The surveyor may also talk with prior owners and adjoiners.

The field work begins after the research and involves establishing a control network of known points called a traverse. The points are used to search for and locate existing monuments and other evidence of the boundaries. Although the field portion of a survey is the most visible phase of surveying, it usually represents only a third of the entire project.

The results of the field work are compared with the research and the surveyor then reconciles all the information to arrive at a final conclusion about the boundaries. A second field trip is then needed to set the new monuments. Finally, the surveyor will draft a plan, prepare a legal description and write a report.

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How much does a survey cost?

The cost of a boundary survey depends on many variables, some of which can not be known until after the work has started. The size, terrain, vegetation, location and season affect the charges and can usually be estimated fairly accurately. However, the surveyor will not know if deeded monuments are missing or if they conflict with the description until well into the survey.

The complexity of the research is also usually not known until the surveyor begins the actual work. Some parcels have passed through many owners over the years. Some may have added adjacent parcels or sold off portions of the orginal lot. The more outparcels and consolidations there have been, the more complex and costly the research becomes. Many deeds are "abutter deeds" which use the neighbors' names to define boundaries. In some cases it may be necessary to research parcels far removed from the land being surveyed to assemble the jigsaw puzzle of old deeds and it is not unusual for the research to account for 50% or more of the total survey cost.

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What are the results of a boundary survey?

Depending on the services agreed on, a boundary survey may produce:

  1. Monuments at all property corners
  2. A written description of the property
  3. A plan of the property
  4. A report explaining the basis of decisions and judgements made to determine the boundaries.
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How will the boundaries be marked?

This also depends on what the client and the surveyor have agreed to. Monuments may include wooden posts, iron pins or pipes, marked trees or concrete monuments. Maine survey standards require that each monument set by a surveyor must clearly show his or her license number. Additionally, you may want to have the surveyor blaze and/or paint trees along the boundary line.

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Is a plan of the survey necessary?

Unless the client specifically excludes a plan from the scope of services, State rules require that one be prepared. The plan provides the client with a permanent record of the survey. If any of the monument are lost of destroyed, they can be replaced with the information shown on the plan. All plans must be embossed and signed by the surveyor indicating that the survey conforms to State standards and that the surveyor has checked the work and stands ready to defend it.

If a plan is prepared, you should also record it in the Registry of Deeds. This not only preserves the work for future reference, but also puts the public on notice that the area shown has been thoroughly researched and documented. In a sense it provides insurance against most claims or disputes.

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How should I arrange for a survey to be done?

For a list of surveyors who are members of the Maine Society of Land Surveyors in your county please contact the Society at 126 Western Ave. - Box 211 - Augusta, ME 04330 or by calling (207) 882-5200. You will also find surveyors listed in the yellow pages and names may be obtained from town officials, your attorney, or the Board of Licensure for Professional Land Surveyors in Augusta. Or you may choose to visit the Maine Society of Land Surveyors' web site at www.msls.org.

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All information represented on this page was taken from the Maine Society of Land Surveyors pamphlet entitled "Questions and Answers about Boundary Surveys".
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